Algeria-Egypt rivalry is so last year
I sit here writing this ahead of the semi-final showdown between Algeria and Egypt with the belief that my point will ring true regardless of who will have won by the time this goes out. My point being that somebody needs to put an end to the escalating rivalry between the two teams. I realize how unpopular this will make me and yes, there are merits to a healthy competition but nobody deny that we have gone beyond the hearty rivalry and reached the extremes of a crash diet. It really is like anorexia; the relationship has gone so far past healthy it is time for an intervention.
The reason behind my mounting disgust towards the behavior of our North African aficionados is that Arabs have suffered enough already and there is no need to flex fists over one another’s pulsating egos. There seems to be a surcharge of testosterone in Egypt and Algeria, with no other outlet for it apart from barefaced violence. I do not pretend to be the Grand Master of all things football, but I do know that the reasoning behind this rivalry is about pride and ego. Seriously folks, what are you trying to compensate for? I do not understand how people can be so angry at one another on the basis of some lines on a map that were imposed by the real enemy of imperialism. Day after day I get videos sent to me consisting of a montage of webcam blogs and news footage explaining why one side is the victim. There are videos of violent hooliganism on both sides and even though one side started it and no doubt one side was more forceful than the other, it really is time to grow up.
The struggle was not helped by striker Mohamed Zidan’s assertion that the Semi-final match between Algeria and Egypt was going to be “war”, a statement that was reckless, irresponsible and rather stupid. Footballers have a responsibility to set an example for their supporters. Not only is he encouraging his fans to behave violently, but he is also endangering them. Indeed the baton of responsibility falls on both football teams. If they really cared about their supporters, they would do something to end the mindless enmity. Threaten not to play, perhaps? That will get the people listening.
I agree with the assertion that this mortal interest in football stems from, in part, living in an oppressive and often hopelessly bleak regime. Perhaps it is an accessible way for people to show their patriotism, but I also believe that characters who go out of their way to trash offices or stone footballers are actively seeking trouble. Maybe it is because the peoples of Egypt and Algeria are so exploited by their respective governments that few of them were able to purchase Call of Duty 6. Seriously, you need to channel your rage.
To those who perpetuate the violence and litter the forums with death threats: is that all you see yourselves as? An unimportant figure defined by the mere consequence of your borders? I can confidently inform you that both Algerians and Egyptians have far more in common than they think. I am, myself, extremely patriotic to all three of my countries, but I know that they are a background to my existence, something that each one of us needs to recognize if we are ever going to be the protagonists of our own lives.
Succumbing to the violence of your ‘enemy’ is not brave, clever or admirable. It is weak. I was recently at a demonstration against an English white supremacist group and all I can say is the resemblance it had to intra-Arab racism was chilling and shameful.
So stop the flag-burning, the stone-throwing and the forum filling and do something constructive for your country. I suggest a book.